After overhearing a conversation on the bus this morning where two people were discussing another person and debating why it is that they didn’t like her – they kept calling her fat as some sort of justification of their bitchiness. I was pretty offended because the implication was that being fat makes you completely repellent as a person when I’m fairly sure they must have had better reasons not to like to this person. Yet they kept using fat as though it was the biggest insult ever and was intended to cause the most damage to this third person’s character. I’m not stranger to a good bitch, sometimes you need to let it out. I don’t judge these girls for discussing their friend’s bad behaviour and letting off steam but I do judge their use of their friend’s appearance against her as though it somehow strengthens their argument.
I’m pretty big. I’m also beautiful. That isn’t to say that I believe that bigger is unanimously beautiful nor that skinny is more beautiful still but I do believe this: fat needs to stop being used as an insult. Call me biased, I probably am, but I will begin by saying that I don’t personally find being called fat that upsetting but I do see how much it effects and hurts other people – particularly those to whom the label doesn’t even apply. There are a few reasons, the first being that it’s dumb and uninventive. If you want to insult somebody, pointing out their physical attributes of which they are probably well aware of is totally futile not to mention obvious. You wouldn’t call someone tall or freckly or large busted as an insult so why is the simple observation that someone is fat so offensive? Skinny is seen as a compliment after all so how does this make fat the antithesis of beauty?
The second reason I think it’s a dangerous insult is because it’s very surface oriented which then feeds into the wider cultural issue that beauty and looks are the most important thing about a person – particularly where women are concerned. By our children constantly overhearing their families, the TV and magazines calling people fat as an insult and pointing out their flaws they will grow up being hypercritical of their own bodies while bashing others to feel better. This is bad behaviour and it will only serve to breed even more bad behaviour if we continue down this path. I’ve seen people viciously and persistently use ‘fat’ to try to tear people I care about apart and make them hurt deeply which is a pretty scary intention – sadly I know this happens with regard to all sorts of nasty name calling.
My third point is that it’s quite telling that the ultimate insult to a woman is to be called fat. Being called a bad person, a hypocrite, cruel, stupid or useless basically considered not being as bad as getting called a fatty. It’s weird to want to insult somebody on such a level anyway but to do so by stating what you see is odd and doesn’t demonstrate much intellect. The way the f word is thrown around aimed at those who don’t even carry extra weight and yet somehow still manages to cause so much distress is quite impressive. I’m not sure whether this can attributed to a lack of self-awareness, severely low self-esteem or the genuine belief that the mere notion of being fat is worse than being a shitty person. It’s pretty weird when you think about it right? Not just me?
If you don’t carry extra weight, the label fat does not apply to you. Don’t worry about it. It’s like getting upset because someone calls you four eyes when you don’t wear glasses – it’s redundant. The crux of it is though, that when a slim person gets upset and bent out of shape when someone calls them fat you’re telling us actual fat people that you’d hate to look like us. Think about how that would feel if somebody said that they would hate to share an attribute that you had and couldn’t just take off. Before anyone brings up the “well stop eating then” argument, remember that not everyone’s weight is down to a lack of self-control and even if it was that doesn’t give you the right to be cruel. Let’s just disregard the reasons behind our collective weights because it’s not really important, people are people no matter what.
I think we need to work together to fix our self-esteem overall, by not giving in to those ingrained reactions to being called fat you are empowering not only yourself but anybody you know that struggles with their weight. I will reclaim the f word and use it on myself to demonstrate how inoffensive it actually is, I won’t be ruled by the notion that fat=unattractive and bad. My own personal view of it is that I don’t care if you call me fat, it’s not offensive it’s an observation. But what I do find offensive is your need to tell me what I am or am not and whether your intention is to hurt me. If you do in fact want to hurt me, I think that says more about you than me because at the end of the day I’d rather be fat than an asshole.